June 12, 2024
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Mike Papantonio on His Legal Thriller ‘Suspicious Activity’

Mike Papantonio on His Legal Thriller 'Suspicious Activity'
Photo Courtesy: Mike Papantonio

By: Jane Fuchtner

In his latest book, “Suspicious Activity,” well-known author Mike Papantonio describes a riveting world where a team of lawyers and investigators work tirelessly to uncover hidden truths. This dynamic group of characters has evolved from his earlier works, beginning with “Law and Disorder,” drawing from real-life experiences and critical litigation that spans decades.

Papantonio explores the idea behind his characters, which include Joel Hartbeck, a combat veteran who turned whistleblower and represents the difficulties experienced by many veterans today, and Carol Morris, an investigator whose position mirrors actual court conflicts. The addition of a paramilitary force and growing dangers such as IEDs heighten the suspense as the story progresses, mirroring the complex and perilous network of financial crimes and their far-reaching effects.

Suspicious Activity features a team of lawyers and investigators working together to uncover the truth. What inspired the dynamic between these characters, and how did you approach their collaboration?

Mike: The characters in this book are the same characters that have evolved in a series of books beginning with LAW AND DISORDER. Most of that team of characters have actually worked together on the most important litigation in this country for more than three decades.

For example, the character Carol Morris is an investigator who has been instrumental in uncovering critical documents and critical conduct connections in cases ranging from tobacco litigation to three of the most significant environmental cases in this country. There is very little fiction involved in describing how the team actually operates.

Joel Hartbeck, a war veteran, plays a pivotal role in the storyline by blowing the whistle on the bank’s activities. What inspired his character, and what challenges did you face in portraying veterans’ experiences authentically?

Mike: Joel fills the role of what might be described as a typical whistleblower. He is representative of most of the whistleblowers we have represented in the past. Moreover, he is an important representation of the level of frustration and failure that most veterans now face in their effort to be treated fairly and compassionately by both the Department of Justice and the Department of Defense.

As the lawsuit progresses, the emergence of a paramilitary group adds another layer of complexity to the narrative. What motivated the inclusion of this element, and how did it contribute to the overarching tension in the story?

Mike: The creation of the paramilitary group was used to focus on the idea that not only are banks washing money for terrorist groups, but they have repeatedly paid massive fines for washing money for organizations that have been used as key vehicles in the distribution of narcotics in this country for decades.

The sudden appearance of IEDs and EFPs on US highways escalates the stakes for the protagonists. Without giving away spoilers, can you discuss how this subplot unfolds and its significance to the central conflict?

Mike: Specifically, from the storyline, the use of IEDs on American soil was to destroy the VAULT, where all of the tangible evidence of manipulating SARs could be found. Moreover, it was also used to make the reader aware of the inevitable truth that this country could easily fall victim to the use of both vest bombs and IEDs, the same way that so many countries around the globe have already experienced.

Your book has been likened to the works of authors such as Joseph Finder, Stephen Frey, and James Grippando. How do you feel your storytelling style and themes resonate with fans of this genre?

Mike: All the authors mentioned in your question rely heavily on stories that can be borrowed from media headlines. We are living in a time when corporate media does a remarkably poor job telling the back stories beyond those headlines. What we see more and more is the void that has been left by corporate media being filled by novels and documentaries that more completely tell the story instead of a mere opening paragraph about important events that affect our lives. That is one reason we see the rise in reliance on social media. It has become an information source that is very often more sophisticated and accurate than what corporate media is able or willing to deliver.

Download: “Suspicious Activity: A Legal Thriller.”


Published By: Aize Perez

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